Now that the missionary age has changed, I feel a lot of pressure to go. Pressure from my friends, pressure from people in my ward, and even pressure from my parents. My plan was to go straight to college after I graduated from high school, and I’ve worked really hard to make that happen. Now I feel like if I do that, no one will think what I’m doing is good enough. If I go (be)cause everyone wants me to, I think I’m going to resent the experience. Do you think it’s OK if I don’t go?
Soon to be Sister Missionary — I guess
Dear Soon to be Sister Missionary — I guess,
For what it’s worth (not very much) I do think it’s OK if a young woman doesn't want to serve a full-time mission. But it doesn’t matter at all what I think. It also doesn’t matter what the members of your ward think or what your friends are doing.
Your instincts are right on — this should be your decision! When you’re serving a mission, there will be really brutal days, doors slamming in your face, dogs chasing you, baptismal dates falling through, language difficulties, time you don't see eye to eye with your companions, etc. And on those hard days it’ll be really empowering to know that it was your choice to go because you knew, with the help of the Lord, that you could do it.
I can tell you that serving a mission for the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the very best thing that I ever did. The summer before my senior year in college I asked my dad, “What should I do with my life?” Thinking he would respond with something like, “go to business school” or “teach abroad,” I was really surprised when he said, “I always thought you would serve a mission.” I rolled my eyes at his response — because it wasn’t the answer I was looking for, but the thought grew in my mind and in my heart until I realized and then decided that it was something that I wanted to do.
All of this is to say, you don’t have to make this decision based off of what other people are doing or based off of what other people think, but don’t completely dismiss the option because it wasn’t a part of your plan. Consider it, pray about it and then faithfully make a choice based on the outcome of your prayers.
You’ll know what to do and it’ll be your choice!
Readers: How do you make big decisions? What do you do when you feel family pressure to do something that you aren't sure is right for you?
Angela Trusty is a millennial writer who lives and writes about the Latter-day Saint experience. Twitter: askange_column